A Year in Reflection

A year ago from today my mother dropped me off at the Windsor airport.

I held back my tears on the drive there, but ultimately began sobbing once I hugged my mom goodbye. It was the first time we would be so far apart for so long. I was terrified.

Now, when I think back to everything that I experienced when I was away, I can’t believe I was so terrified.

I watched the sun set from seven different countries over the course of 200 days.

I ate Belgian waffles in Belgium, and I fell in love with Kasteel Rouge.

I drank a Guinness in Dublin, and I sat on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.

I saw the entirety of London from the London Eye, and posed for a typical tourist pic next to a red phone booth.

I toured the oldest castles in Wales, and watched the biggest rugby game of the year in a pub.

I tried banana beer in Germany, and walked the beautiful streets of Kleve.

I did my best to make zero eye-contact in the Red Light District, and I visited as many coffeeshops as possible in Amsterdam.

I went snorkeling every day in Malta, and I ate the best burgers from the Hot Shots burger van every night.

I cried tears of joy and tears of sadness when I landed in America.

After coming home, I finished my last semester at Ferris and I was a featured student at my commencement ceremony in December.

I spent my semester co-planning the Conversations on Race event on campus, and I tutored Umair, a Pakistani international student, in English. He passed his Michigan English test and I somehow managed to pass my exams.

I applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted as a Secondary Education English teacher in Mongolia, my country of choice!

This past year has been the best year of my life – so far – but I know the years ahead will be great too.

Below, you can watch the short video I made composed of pictures and videos from my time in Europe:


Peace Corps FAQs

After being invited to serve in the Peace Corps as a Secondary Education English Teacher in Mongolia, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from my family, friends, and random people in my classes. I figured I would take the time to write a blog post dedicated to all of these important – and sometimes silly – questions, to give you all an idea of what I am getting myself into.

What made you want to join the Peace Corps?

I’ve been asked this almost every day, from every person I’ve told, and I think my answer changes every single time.

Basically, I loved my time abroad in the Netherlands and Malta so much, once I returned home I began seeking opportunities abroad for after graduation.

I knew I didn’t just want any old job abroad. I wanted to do something that would make a difference, something that would put me out of my comfort zone, and something that would make me miss home – but not enough to return.

I looked into being an au pair, a flight attendant, or even a translator, but I realized none of those things were really what I was looking for.

I soon remembered hearing about the Peace Corps from all my time spent in the international office at Ferris, and I figured I would look into it and maybe even consider applying. After all, I had a lot of experience with tutoring international students in English, and if you pair that with my passion for volunteering, I was a perfect candidate.

Once I saw the opening for a Secondary Education English Teacher in Mongolia, I realized it was meant for me. I knew I was going there the second I started filling out my application – not kidding.

I guess I just have a really accurate intuition!

I heard the application process takes a really long time, how long did it take you?

For most people, it does take a long time. There are a lot of steps you have to take, such as filling out a bunch of medical paperwork, updating your resume, answering a soft skills questionnaire and writing an essay. I dedicated an entire Saturday to my application and I was able to get almost everything done.

I say almost because I contacted a local recruiter the following Monday and he gave me some tips to strengthen my resume and go over my application. Not everyone has to do this, but it REALLY helped me out.

According to the Peace Corps website, 55% of applicants who contact a recruiter are more likely to become volunteers. And I’m one of them 😉


Where will you be going once you get to Mongolia? Will you be living in a ger? Or with a host family?

I actually have no idea.

I know I’ll definitely be living with a host family during my three months of training, but after that, I’m clueless. I don’t think I’ll be finding out anytime soon, but I secretly really want to live in a ger.


Original photo from Bernd Thaller.

How are you going to communicate with Mongolian people? Don’t they speak another language?

Yes! They speak Mongolian and I will be going through three months of intensive language training before becoming a teacher so hopefully I’ll be fluent enough to get by toward the end of training!

But before that, when I’m living with my host family, I assume I’ll communicate with lots of smiling and head nodding.

And if you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, a Mongolian dictionary is high on my list.

So are you just going to be eating a bunch of Mongolian BBQ every day?

Uhhhh, I wish! Mongolian BBQ is great. But I think Mongolian BBQ in the US is similar to Chinese food in the US….it’s nothing like the real deal.

If I could walk up to a cart filled with  fresh veggies, meats and noodles for every meal, I think I would be in heaven.

But luckily I’m not a picky eater and I’m up for trying whatever anyone puts on my plate.

Aren’t you going to miss your family and friends?

Of course!

I’m sure I’ll miss them every day but it will get easier with time. I’m really nervous for being away for holidays, but other than that I think I’ll do just fine being away from home.

With all of the modern technology, I’m sure my mom will still be blowing up my phone every day and I’ll be able to stalk all of my friends through Facebook.

What are you getting yourself into?

I really have no idea, but I know I’m ready for it.